The number of Americans living in multigenerational households has increased substantially in the past decade. How to manage this living situation so every family member is happy and healthy. Sponsored by MobileHelp.
Multigenerational Households are a Rising Trend
The number of multigenerational households is on the rise — in the United States, 19% of families live in a multigenerational home. (source)
There are a variety of reasons that Americans are increasingly choosing to live in multigenerational households:
- More economical for all family members
- Grandparents provide childcare for working parents
- Travel costs are reduced since there is no need to pay for gas or airfare to visit relatives
- Grown children care for aging parents
In fact, when I married my husband, I knew from the get-go that his mother would live with us someday. She’s not retired yet and currently maintains another residence, though she does stay with us a couple weekends a month.
While there are definitely benefits to living in a multigenerational home, this living situation has its challenges too. For some families, deciding who pays for what in the household budget causes friction. For others, the lack of privacy might be an issue. For still others, learning to balance an older relative’s desire for independence, while making sure they are safe and well taken care of is the main concern.
Making Multigenerational Households Work
The following are three main challenges facing multigenerational households, and how to overcome them so that everyone is happy and benefits from the situation.
1. Helping an Aging Family Member Maintain Independence, While Ensuring Their Safety
We’ve all seen the commercials, with an elderly lady writing on the ground saying “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Fortunately, she pushes a button that hangs on a chain around her neck and emergency services arrive to save the day.
While definitely dramatic, it brings to attention something that many families experience — how to help an older relative continue to live an independent lifestyle, while knowing they are safe in case of an accident or emergency situation.
While my mother-in-law is still independent and does not live with us full time, this is something we may have to navigate in the future.
Problem is, most medical alert solutions currently on the market are clunky and obvious (including the one shown in the afore-mentioned commercial). For a senior that wants to retain their independence, it’s almost like a scarlet letter. I sure wouldn’t want to wear a big putty-colored box around my neck!
Perhaps one of the most important things to consider with an older relative living in the home is how to provide thoughtful and adequate care, without infringing on their dignity and self-respect.
That’s the void MobileHelp aims to fill with their new MobileHelp Smart medical alert system. MobileHelp teamed up with Samsung to create a customized Samsung Gear S3 smart watch that allows seniors to continue to live an active independent lifestyle, as well as provide their loved ones with peace of mind.
What’s Different About MobileHelp Smart?
Unlike the clunky medical alert systems that are tied to a home’s landline, MobileHelp Smart is a sleek and functional Samsung Gear S3 smart watch.
We got a chance to test out the MobileHelp Smart watch and the one thing I especially like is that it looks really stylish – I’d totally wear it! However, it is simple enough to use it without needing detailing instructions (so it’s perfect for those who might not be up on the latest technology).
While it doesn’t look like a traditional safety device, the MobileHelp Smart allows users to reach a trained operator 24/7/365 with the touch of a button, no matter where they are. A 2-way microphone and speaker provides voice communication directly to MobileHelp’s US-based Emergency Response Center.
What really sets MobileHelp Smart apart from other medical alert devices on the market is its portability. MobileHelp Smart offers 4G cellular network connectivity, so users don’t need to worry about staying home or close to a landline-connected base in order to get help. GPS location tracking means that the wearer is never lost — something that would provide peace of mind to families dealing with Alzheimers, or similar conditions.
MobileHelp Smart also compliments an active lifestyle with key features of Samsung Health:
- step counting
- sleep tracking
- heart rate monitoring
- calorie counting
- fitness goal setting
Future versions aimed at patients with chronic illnesses to better monitor their health and extreme athletes who train in dangerous and remote locations. Personally, I’d also love to see a kid-sized watch too!
2. Planning a Family Budget That is Fair for Everyone
Like in traditional households, money can cause tension in a multigenerational home too. Prevent money from becoming a dividing factor by setting a family budget right from the get-go.
Some families choose to divvy up expenses in an itemized manner. For example, the married couple (middle generation) might pay the mortgage while the older parent in the home takes care of utilities and groceries.
Other methods include splitting the budget by dollar amounts or percentages.
Things to consider when creating a budget for a multigenerational household:
- Total shared household expenses (things like rent/mortgages, food, utilities, cable/internet)
- How much each member of the household can afford based on their income
- Contributions to the budget could also be non-monetary, like a relative that provides childcare
3. Ensuring that Every Family Member has Privacy
With multiple generations living under one roof, it can definitely seem crowded at times. Lack of privacy is one of the main drawbacks of living in a multigenerational home, though there are practical ways to minimize this.
The key is making sure that everyone has personal space. Community areas like the kitchen and living room will naturally be gathering places. However, bedrooms should be respected as a private area.
Another solution is to buy or build a home that is specifically designed to fit the needs of a multigenerational household. Options include dual master bedroom suites or a detached “mother-in-law” suite over the garage or in the backyard. These types of real estate are becoming increasingly common as the number of multigenerational households continues to rise.
Multigenerational Households Can Be A Blessing to All Family Members
Living in a multigenerational household can be more challenging than a traditional single-family home, but it can also be a blessing.
When I pictured married life, my vision didn’t originally include a mother-in-law in the home with us. However, I see that my children benefit from being close to their grandma, and that she loves to be near her son and granddaughters too.
Knowing that there are options like MobileHelp Smart available to us if we need them in the future makes me feel secure that we’ll have the resources we need to make sure that everyone is happy, healthy, and safe.